On 26 July 2022, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) celebrated its 25th year of activity with a ceremony at the Italian Armed Forces Club in Rome, attended by Enrico Giovannini, minister of infrastructure and sustainable mobility, as well as domestic institutions and the managers of companies operating in the industry.


The body was set up by Legislative Decree No. 250/1997, which brought together in a single entity the competences previously attributed to:

  • the Italian Aeronautical Registry;
  • the General Directorate of Civil Aviation of the Ministry of Transport and Navigation; and
  • the National Air People Authority.

Article 2 of Legislative Decree No. 250/1997 assigns to ENAC, among other things, the functions of:

  • technical regulation and inspection;
  • sanctioning;
  • certification;
  • authorisation; and
  • coordination and control activities.

Further, ENAC has the duty to keep records in the matters of its competence and of the definition and control of the quality parameters of airport and air transport services.

ENAC's competences are also set out in article 687 of the Italian Navigation Code, which states as follows:

in compliance with the guiding powers of the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, as well as without prejudice to the specific competences of the other aeronautical bodies, (ENAC) acts as the sole technical regulatory, certification and supervisory authority in the civil aviation sector, through its central and peripheral structures, and ensures the presence and application of aeronautical quality systems that comply with Community regulations.

ENAC represents Italy in the major international civil aviation organisations (eg, the International Civil Aviation Conference, the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), the European Aviation Safety Agency and EUROCONTROL), with which it has continuous relations of dialogue and collaboration and in which it also holds leadership positions (ENAC's director general, Alessio Quaranta, has been the president of the ECAC since 12 July 2021).


Passengers' Bill of Rights
Among ENAC's most important initiatives is the drafting of the Passengers' Bill of Rights. This brings together in a single text the current national, EU and international regulations concerning the forms of protection that passengers can claim in the event of disruptions in service. Originally published in 2001 and progressively updated, taking into account the continuous development of national and EU regulations in the sector (in particular the EU Flight Compensation Regulation),(1) this document allows ENAC, acting as a national enforcement body, to play the role of the authority responsible in Italy for the correct application of the EU Flight Compensation Regulation in the event of air transport disruptions.

Airport Managing Company's Services Charter
Another significant project was the publication of the Airport Managing Company's Services Charter, a mechanism under which each airport managing company annually determines the minimum quality standards (identified by a series of parameters established and approved by ENAC) of all the services provided at each airport and undertakes to ensure their compliance.


According to ENAC, passenger numbers have almost tripled over the past 25 years, increasing from 72 million in 1997 to 192 million in 2019, the year before the covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic, as expected, caused a considerable slowdown in the exponential growth of air traffic in recent years. However, thanks to the safety measures provided for by ENAC, among others, similar figures to those of 2019 have already been recorded in 2022 – for some airports, even higher numbers have been noted.


Nowadays, the biggest challenges for ENAC are those shared by the entire industry. First is the need to keep up with the regulatory and legislative requirements of the technological progress that is influencing and will continue to influence the air cargo and passenger transport sector. Reference is made in particular to the forthcoming distribution of electric drones, both with and without a pilot, with which it will be possible to cover short-to-medium distances quickly and "land" in urban areas.

A further development in civil aviation concerns the exploitation of aerospace for sub-orbital flights capable of covering very long distances with increasingly short timescales. ENAC is already making progress by signing a memorandum of understanding with the Puglia region for the implementation of actions required to set up a new legal entity called "Cryptaliae Spaceport" in order to enable ENAC, the Puglia airport and other public bodies involved (ie, ENAV SpA – the company responsible for the provision of air traffic services in Italy – and the Military Aviation Authority), to meet the forthcoming demand for innovative services in the aerospace sector, both public and private.

The other major challenge faced by ENAC is the need to figure out mechanisms and methods to ensure technological innovation to drastically reduce the ecological footprint of airports and airlines. This is part of the policy of decarbonisation of air transport referred to in the European Commission's "Fit for 55" climate package, which proposes legislative proposals to achieve the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared with 1990 levels, with the goal of achieving "carbon neutrality" by 2050. In this sense, thanks to concerted work with its existing EU counterparts, ENAC is setting incentive policies for airlines and airports to increasingly use naturally derived ecologically friendly fuel as well as carbon-neutral vehicles such as electrically powered drones.

For further information on this topic please contact Francesco Paolo Ballirano or Giulio Teofilatto at Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati by telephone (+39 06 88 41 713) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]).The Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati website can be accessed at


(1) Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights.